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Marketing Interviews

Arvind Mediratta

Head-Marketing | 17 Apr 2003

"Saffola provides us with an ideal platform to capitalize on the trend of increasing health consciousness by offering a number of new food products that are able to cater to needs in this area"

This time in Brand Speak, exchange4media's Nikhil Gupta speaks to Arvind Mediratta, Head-Marketing, Marico Industries Ltd., on positioning of its key brands, insights from its qualitative research and the likely brand extensions under 'Saffola.'

Q. What were the key insights, which formed the basis of positioning of Marico's hair oil brands 'Parachute' and 'Shanti Amla' in India?

In case of 'Parachute' Coconut oil, we have leveraged the brands' core benefits creatively to develop advertising that is highly liked by the consumer. We identified that consumers test the quality of a coconut oil through its 'aroma.' 'Parachute' is made out of coconuts that are handpicked in Kerala that gives it a special, distinctive aroma. This was effectively leveraged through a highly successful advertising campaign that saw the market shares move up from 40% in September 2002 to 46% in February 2003. Additionally, with this film we have contemporarised the image of the brand. Based on consumer research, we found that the Amla consumer aspires to have long, beautiful black hair. So in 2002, we positioned 'Shanti Amla' on the platform of 'Kaale Zindadil Baal'. In an effort to strongly establish this proposition, we have done a huge Direct to Home exercise on Shanti Amla to generate trials for the brand and educate consumers on the brand proposition. This has been done in over 45 lakh households all across the country.

Q. What about Marico's cooking oil brand-Saffola?

On Saffola we have leveraged the current leaning towards the health trend, the wellness concept in an innovative manner. The busy executives and professionals, today, are looking for lifestyle interventions necessary to counter the stresses of personal and professional life; and all of them are in a search mode for solutions. Saffola has taken initiatives to bring solutions to their doorsteps, and what better place to do this but the office itself. Hence the Saffola, 'Direct to Office' initiative. In this programme, interesting information is shared by an eminent cardiologist, on the lifestyle interventions. Diet forms an important part of this lifestyle intervention and which is where the brand Saffola fits in. For the same insight, we also have a Direct to Consumer Programme where the wives of executives and professionals are addressed. So Saffola this times goes to their homes. This programme though involves sharing interesting information through a dietician on the food. This is done because housewives interest lie in practical interventions (recipes, cooking tips, etc.) necessary to counter the stresses life. Here the housewives are addressed through talks and recipe shows World Heart Day as a concept existed, however, Saffola recognised the potential and leveraged it as an opportunity to involve audiences with the message of Heart Care. There were ' 2000 free heart check ups' offered by Saffola at key locations on the World Heart Day in various metroes (e.g. Churchgate Station in Mumbai). While through the check ups, only a few people were reached, it was the messages in media which touched millions endearing Saffola to them all and also inextricably linking Saffola to 'Healthy heart', which is the brand message we want to spread. The fabulous response on our website was a testimony to it all - we had 26,000 visitors to the website in 15 days.

Q. With regards to your brand building efforts, specifically which brands will Marico be focusing upon in this year?

Parachute is one of the largest FMCG brands in the country and it is the flagship brand of Marico. In the coming year, we are going to significantly invest in strengthening the brand by modernising and contemporarising its image and offering tangible benefits to consumers. Our aim will be to significantly gain consumers who currently use look-alikes in the belief that they are comparable in quality and benefit to Parachute. Additionally, we will look at making Shanti Amla a strong No. 2 player in the Amla category. We will also work towards successfully establishing the newly launched Shanti Thanda Tel in the Cooling oils category and Mediker Anti Lice Oil in the anti-lice category.

Q. Increasingly, Marico has been focussing on qualitative market insights rather than quantitative? What is the reason for this shift? For which products was the qualitative research used? And broadly speaking, can you give us a few market insights with regards to the market of that product?

Qualitative insights are critical to derive a deep understanding of the consumers' needs today and aspirations tomorrow. In fact, Saffola has very successfully used insights gathered through the qualitative route in their marketing programmes. Saffola wanted to engage the young adults in preventive heart care solutions, majority of who are yet indifferent towards heart care, for themselves. Therefore on World Heart Day, we tapped on the insight that young adults want to do something productive for their parents but do not have the time; also parents' health is a key concern. The appeal made to them was to register for a heart check for their parents and this generated 10,000+ registrations in Mumbai and Delhi alone. This programme also gave us an opportunity to talk to these young adults about the preventive heart care for themselves. Also the qualitative insights go a long way in fine- tuning the marketing programmes at a grass root level. In the Direct to Consumer Programme, the low cal recipe demo and the lottery at the show were ideas that were successfully developed by leveraging the housewives interest areas - cooking and their excitement towards chance and luck games. Within the Hair Oil category, in our various qualitative researches done, consumers using cooling oil talked about need gaps currently existent. This led to developing of a product mix which is different from that being offered by other brands, and the strong emotional payoff of "Ghar ki Shanti". We have also arrived at a unique concept to upgrade people from loose coconut oil to Parachute Coconut oil by contrasting to loose oil users the superiority of Parachute coconut oil. Parachute coconut oil is produced from the best coconuts from Kerala in very hygienic conditions and through machines that are automated. As a result, Parachute coconut oil reaches the consumer entirely untouched by hand. In contrast, loose oil is produced out of poor quality coconut in extremely filthy conditions. This distinction has been captured in advertising that has been created to highlight the disparity between the manufacturing techniques of loose oil vis-à-vis Parachute coconut oil. This has resulted in an 8% growth in Parachute compared to -5% of competition between November 2002 and February 2003. Basis extensive qualitative research, Parachute Jasmine arrived at the insight of 'mera pati, mera mangetar' which had a significant emotional connect across audiences. This insight was leveraged in the brands' advertising as a result of which the market share of the brand moved up from 25% to 35% in the value added coconut hair oil category.

Q. Marico is also planning to launch products into the health foods category under the existing brand of 'Saffola.' Do think a market gap exists? If yes, then what are the reasons, which have led to this gap in the market?

'Health' and 'wellness' in the context of the FMCG category is becoming an increasingly important need area for today's consumers. Increasing health consciousness, pollution, stress, and a host of other lifestyle-related factors have led to this trend gaining prominence - and this is a trend that is not restricted to only large metros. A number of products (some of them even non-FMCG) are now talking about health in different ways - durable companies, Malted Food Drinks, Beverages, Tea, Water Purifiers, are some of them. In the context of Indian food products, the need for "healthy" foods is becoming even more important. Saffola has a very strong healthy heart equity, and is a trusted brand that has gone from strength to strength over the years. It thus provides us with an ideal platform to capitalize on this trend of increasing health consciousness by offering a number of new food products that are able to cater to this need area. And of course, the food products have to be in sync with the Saffola imagery and values.

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